Canada going out kicking

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Canada wanted to go down swinging and they did.

With nothing left to play for in their World Cup qualifying campaign, Canada tied a desperate Mexican team 2-2 in front of 14,105 fans at Commonwealth Stadium last night.

The game earned Canada their second point in the standings, but more importantly, put the brakes on a three-game losing skid. They'll finish their 2010 World Cup qualification tournament with a game in Jamaica next month.

"The guys wanted to come out and show that we are proud to wear the Canadian jersey," said striker Ali Gerba, who scored the opening goal for Canada. "We believed we had a good squad. It was just unfortunate we weren't able to make it to the next round, but I think we have an incredible amount of talent here."

It was the best game Canada had played in the qualifiers so far.

Unfortunately for them it came too late when all hope of moving on had already been lost. Even if they were able to win their final two games, it would not be enough for them to finish top-two in their group and therefore move on to the next round.

Had it not been for a bad call, a bad bounce, a crossbar and a few inches in the other direction, Canada would have come out of it on top.

"I believe that we should have won the game," Gerba said. "But Mexico is not just any other team, they're a good team. But it's unfortunate we could have gotten a win for the fans to show them that we are a good squad, but well take the draw."

Gerba gave the Canadians the lead 13 minutes in, getting on the end of a long-ball and lofting it over Mexican goaltender Oswaldo Sanchez.

It was the third time in three home games Canada scored the first goal in the game. Unfortunately for the Canadians they have been unable to hold on to the advantage on all three occasion.

Last night, Canada was short-changed on a call as two players went up for an aerial ball. Canadian midfielder Marcel de Jong went up to play the ball, while Mexican midfielder Gerrardo Torrado decided to take out his opponent. Somehow the call went against Canada, ten yards outside of their penalty area.

Mexico went on to score on the ensuing free kick as Carlos Salcido bounced a shot off Patrice Bernier and past goaltender Lars Hirschfeld.

"I actually thought it should have been a foul against us," said Mexican coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. "But I'm not going to complain about it. We'll take it."

In the second half, Canada shocked the Mexicans again, scoring the go-ahead goal five minutes after the restart.

Gerba found some space along the right wing and whipped a perfect cross, which landed on the foot of Tomasz Radzinski.

The Canadian striker, who may be playing his last game for his country, had the easy tap in to give the Canadians the lead.

The goal was a huge blow to Mexico who needed a win in order to clinch a spot in the next round of qualifying.

With Jamaica beating Honduras earlier in the day, their place in the final group phase was far from secure.

But Matias Vuoso tied the contest in the 65th minute drifting away from Canadian defender Richard Hastings and heading a Giovani Dos Santos cross over Hirschfeld.

Canada had chances to win it late, including Radzinski finding himself in behind the Mexican defence, but shooting it wide.

"I tried to toe-poke it and unfortunately I have a very crooked toe and it went the wrong direction," said Rad- zinski. "It's unfortunate, because it would have been really, really nice to give Canada the win."


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